Rhythmic team 'close'
Moon says team has been a credit to the sport
Last Updated: 18/07/12 7:56pm
The rhythmic gymnastics team: Stronger than ever
Team GB's rhythmic gymnastics group coach Sarah Moon believes the uncertainty over the team's participation at the London Olympics has only made them stronger.
The six-strong team of captain Rachel Smith, Louisa Pouli, Francesca Fox, Lynne Hutchison, Jade Faulkner and Georgina Cassar had looked set to miss out on the Games in January.
They missed the agreed score set by British Gymnastics in the group all-around qualifying competition at the test event at the North Greenwich Arena, meaning a nomination would not be submitted to the British Olympic Association for a host nation place at London 2012.
But they appealed that decision and independent arbitrator Sports Resolutions UK found in their favour in March.
After all those trials and tribulations, Moon senses that her squad are tighter than ever as they prepare to become the first British team to compete in the discipline at an Olympics Games.
"It's been a real whirlwind of a year with lots of ups and downs and lots of hoops to jump through," she said.
"But we are here and we are going and we are extremely proud to be representing Great Britain and very excited to be a part of Team GB. The events that happened in January were very, very stressful.
"We had a very stressful six weeks and we had a lot of sleepless nights, but I think in a very ironic way it has made me and the girls stronger as individuals, stronger as a group and much more determined to succeed at this competition and to develop their life skills and how to manage yourself in these situations.
"They have been a great credit to themselves and the sport."
The squad competed at the European Championships in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia at the start of June, where they finished 16th, but had to miss a World Cup event in Belarus last week due to Pouli being ill.
But Moon insists everyone will be fit and raring to go when their competition begins on August 9 at Wembley Arena.
"We have had a few little issues with illness recently," she said. "We were going great guns, everything was rolling along smoothly but just a couple of girls have been ill which has slowed us down a bit but the other girls are training hard.
"They get over these things and bounce back quickly."
Another hurdle the gymnasts have had to overcome is being self-funded.
And Moon praised the efforts of all those who had helped to keep the team's Olympic dream alive.
"It has been a very expensive year. We estimate £60,000-£70,000 has been spent, if not more," she said.
"British Gymnastics helped us with some funding after we won the arbitration which allowed us to get to the Europeans and have access to English Institute of Sport doctors.
"We then managed to get a sponsor just at the end to help us with the last part. They are called Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It. They are a fundraising organisation and I think the girls will help out with them after the games.
"At the other end of the scale, we have been doing bag packs at Morrisons, we asked gymnastic clubs around the country to do a sponsored skip and send us some cash for managing to do that.
"We had a Dad who ran the Bath half-marathon on our behalf. "We have had parents holding tea parties with their neighbours and friends and the girls have sold autographed cards.
"We did a huge fundraising event at the University of Bath with (Winter Olympic gold medallist) Amy Williams and (modern pentathlete) Mhairi Spence and everyone donated signed pieces of kit that were auctioned off to the audience.
"It's been a very big team effort especially from everyone here at Team Bath. It's one big family we have become a part of it."